Stoni would have rubbed her hands together in anticipation. Any minute now, she would be sent off on her first real ghost mission. She would have a chance to prove herself useful, learn more about VIVID, and most of all, see something other than Cube Farm 3. It was so uniform that she might easily lose her seat, if she was ever allowed to leave it. The only distinctive feature of each desk was the ghost seated at it, and the ghosts were not particularly interesting. Being ghosts, they were ethereal. Their features were visible but unclear. No one had much opportunity to display any character or personality.
Instead of rubbing her hands together, Stoni rubbed her working hand against her left wrist. After the Lentie Flyndon test mission, Stoni had been so used to the lack of response from her left arm and hand that it had taken her nearly an hour to notice the truth. Just like the problem with her vision, her arm's lack of ability applied both inside VIVID and out. That implied that the problem was in her brain. It also raised the question of where a ghost kept their brain. Stoni had pondered that for a while, but no answers had presented themselves.
In any case, Stoni was excited at the chance to actually do something again. She was less excited at the headaches and nausea she knew would result from being in VIVID. However, she had grown used to continually experiencing a low level of the vision problem, so she hoped it would be less of an issue. There was nothing she could do to fix it, nor was there a way to avoid it, so her only choice was to push through and learn to bear it. The alternative was giving in and being thrown back in the ghost cache, and that was unacceptable. Stoni was no quitter, of that she was certain.
Stoni was not certain of much regarding her own self. She was sure that her true name wasn't Stoni, but she preferred having a name to thinking of herself as a number. She also felt that she'd participated in dream games similar to VIVID before. Long, long before. There were no specifics, but she hoped some remnant of her past experiences might help or guide her. As for her likes and dislikes, her hopes and dreams and fears, she would have to figure all that out by trial and error. She'd already started a mental list, which she would gradually fill out in accordance with her experiences.
Having a physical body
Not knowing how I got here
Not knowing who I am
Sitting in one of a thousand identical cubicles
Not being able to move my own arm
Lack of binocular vision
Most of those are pretty obvious though. Who likes having a headache?
She was sitting with her headset on, ready for deployment at a moment's notice. A moment was all she got. A soft beep immediately preceded the fade-out. Cube Farm 3 melted away. Stoni was glad to see it go.
Oh, back to Rabbit Hills again. But this time I'm a character called Nina, not Lentie.
Stoni wondered why she was back here again. Was she assigned to this location, or was it a common place for new ghosts to work? Was something special about this place? She was Nina now, so she ought to know something about this place and why she had come here. It was part of her character backstory. Why come to a hilly region containing little but rabbits and skinny white trees?
Nothing new there either. All I'm qualified for is dragging newbie players back to town when they log out of VIVID. Newbie players, that seems relevant. Oh! Star Town is a newbie zone. And so is Lumberton. I expect I'll see a lot of both.
Nina carefully rose to her feet, leaning against a tree for support.
That wasn't so bad. Not great, but I think I'm slightly less dizzy. The headache is pretty bad though. Why did I want to come back here? Is this what the rest of my existence is doomed to be? Jumping back and forth between headache and worse headache? Well I won't be jumping anywhere if I keep standing here like a useless post. It's time to get moving. One foot in front of the other.
The shadows showed her which way she could go, but she double checked with her compass. Compasses were a standard item for travellers, it seemed. From Nina's memories, she was in the same general part of Rabbit Hills as Lentie had been. Not exactly the same, but close enough that should wouldn't miss the town.
The trees seem taller than I remember. Than Stoni remembers, I mean. The trees Nina remembers are also taller than I expect. But they can't have all grown taller in only a day. What's going on?
To Stoni's dismay, Nina proved herself less effective at walking than Lentie.
+ being short
Every step was a minor struggle to keep her balance despite the kaleidoscope of junk replacing her right eye's vision. Shorter legs meant more steps. This would be harder than she'd thought.
But I think I might be starting closer to Star Town than I did as Lentie, so I think I can make it. So long as I don't die. I hope those bandits aren't around.
Twenty minutes later, Nina joined the road. While it wound between the hills, the level path was much easier going. She passed another traveller going the other direction. He wore reddish brown robes and a bulky grey pack, and avoided looking at Nina as she grew close. She opted to ignore him in return. She didn't have time for conversation.
After another twenty minutes, she decided she did have time to stop and refresh herself. She needed a break from the side-effects of motion, and she was both hungry and thirsty.
I didn't check my pack earlier, but I know I've got something. Ah, a leather bottle of water, that'll do. And what did I bring to eat? I 'm not sure what... oh, these are figs.
It only took one bite for her to render a verdict.